Heysel And The Darkest Hour

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 sometimes sitting there
in our little plastic seats 
in structures of steels and light
you look around today
and it’s easy to forget where we’ve come from
and the dark dark times along the way
but I know where I was that night
safe at home un-suspecting excited
and looking forward to a big game on the box
back then in the early 80’s
we didn’t get that much live football on terrestrial TV 
the odd England game  the Cup Final   the World Cup
but I remember rushing home to Stroud
from Coventry that evening
in bumper to bumper traffic that balmy late-May night
I was not alone in longing for a great European Final
Liverpool and Juventus
two of the best face to face
and sitting down with anticipation inside
I switched on BBC 1 like millions
just as  Wogan finished
suddenly  there was Jimmy Hill
ashen faced    apologetic tongue-tied and angry
the pundit panel   stunned and speechless
and Hill suggesting  the return of conscription 
as ugly scenes flared behind them
gruesome compelling    scary and brutal
these were scenes we had not seen before
LIVE on our screens
but we watched it all unfold in our living rooms
robbed of our rose-tinted spectacles
and nostalgic cloth-cap views of terracing et al
let’s not forget
that back then in Britain
in life and in football
those were hard and dangerous times
but in reality  week on week   we’d still be  there
herded from stations to grounds like animals
penned into ancient concrete areas like criminals
treated to a man
as working class losers and hooligans one and all

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 sometimes you even got pee’d on from behind
because once you got a good spot
no way would you wanna lose it
inadequate conditions inadequate toilets  devoid of security 
and pretty much left to our own devices  on the terraces
the mood was often violent and unsafe
the atmosphere  hostile and charged
racist chants and a tribal anger
you did your best to ignore 
but for some reason  love of the game or whatever
we coped with it
until that night   when it happened
as bodies piled up and  fans struggled
and both sides fought
before our very eyes
and disgusted and broken
together we searched for answers and solutions
in that darkest hour
when that wall collapsed
it signalled the end of 39 Italian lives and up to 600 injured
and all this live on our screens
I’ve never felt so ashamed to just being into football
and such sadness and tears
for the lives of those dead
it’s hard to erase such memories and hard to believe
they still played that strange  
and atmosphere-less game that night
pressure or fear of more reprisals no doubt
hard too to believe a crumbling ground  
about to be demolished
could play host to such a match
kicked out of the European competition
we now dominate for 5 years
British teams took the brunt
but nothing erases shame

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 and sometimes sitting in our plush hospitality areas
gazing at 52″ flat-screen plasmas and talking big
it’s easy to forget but wise to remember
where we’ve come from

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 the dark dark times along the way
and the night the lives of  39 Juventus fans were lost
may those times never return
may their souls forever rest in peace



This game and match evoke so much emotion on both sides .It’s such a sensitive issue and area. So please note , this is not a poem apportioning blame to either side here. Enough has been written on that subject. I just wanted to write down my thoughts and memories of that night.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/heysel-and-the-darkest-hour/